Every fall families would come into the Pepin Public Library and socialize with each other and the conversation would turn to “What are your kids going to be for Halloween?” They would then talk about costumes that they had and would be willing to give to each other. Each family always had that one costume that no longer fit any of their children and their friend’s children didn’t want.
This got me thinking that maybe the library could be a place where unwanted costumes could come and find new homes. Thus was the beginning of the Halloween Costume Exchange. Flyers were made and distributed and tickets were printed. Families were told that they could drop off any costume for any age or size. These costumes would then belong to the library to use for the exchange and if any costumes were not used they would be donated to a local charity at the end of October.
Families had several options to choose from when dropping off a costume. They could do a straight up one for one exchange – drop off one; take one home. They could drop off a costume and take a ticket to be traded for a costume anytime in October. This worked for families who didn’t see anything when they came in, especially if they were some of the first to drop off a costume. Near the end of the program families were able to make a monetary donation to the Friends Group and then just take a costume home without having to provide a costume. All of these options were used. In addition some families just made a donation of a costume without taking one. 2013 was the first time we attempted this and we had 6 families do some type of exchange.
We started to accept costumes the third week of September to have some on hand for the beginning of October. The first two weeks of October preference was given to families who had costumes to do an exchange or redeem tickets. The last week before Halloween anyone could get a costume by any method. We accepted costumes throughout October.The few left over costumes were then given to the local community assistance organization or kept at the library to be available for the children to play with.
Tickets were created in Publisher using a business card template. We had some blank business card sheets that we printed on and then tore apart. We wanted something more substantial than regular typing paper. Printing on card stock and cutting apart would achieve the same result. We also dated them so we could do this again in the future without worrying about another year’s unredeemed tickets emerging.